May
01
2007

Bono, I Presume?

Covering Africa Through Celebrities

"Africa is sexy and people need to know that,” declared U2 singer Bono (New York Times, 3/5/07), promoting his new (RED) line of products that propose to save Africa one iPod at a time. Celebrity interest in Africa is not particularly new, but today more stars than ever seem to be converging upon the continent, with television crews seldom far behind. But, as Bono clearly understands, what media tend to find sexy about Africa is not Africa itself, but the stars like himself who have taken up causes in the region. In television news in particular, with its typically cursory […]

May
01
2007

CounterSpin Interview: Mahmood Mamdani on Darfur

Western Media Must Share Responsibility

There is no doubt that intense war and human suffering exists in many places around the world. The war in Congo, for instance, escapes media scrutiny, but is probably the deadliest of our time, killing millions of people. It’s worth considering, then, which conflicts we are told to pay close attention to, and what we are told about those conflicts. The war in Iraq, of course, is heavily covered; the violence in Darfur, less so. But how we talk about these conflicts is very different. CounterSpin talked to Mahmood Mamdani, a professor of government and anthropology at Columbia University who […]

May
01
2007

Make Your Own Damn Sign!

Why Democrats need to promote progressive media

It did not surprise me, during the 2004 election, when Kerry/Edwards supporters called in to my show on Air America Radio—though it did surprise me when they called in seeking yard signs. I don’t have a yard, much less a sign. All I could think to do was to direct these callers to the Kerry campaign website, which is what I did until one exasperated caller protested that she could find no darn way to obtain a yard sign through www.johnkerry.com. The caller was right. Not only was there no apparent way to obtain a yard sign through the Democratic […]

May
01
2007

SoundBites

Non-Euclidian Journalism "The parallels are striking," declared an April 4 New York Times article comparing the current dispute over Iraq War funding and the 1995 deadlock over Medicare and other federal spending, which resulted in a government shut-down. "Bold new congressional majorities swept into power by public dissatisfaction with White House policies. The administration and Congress digging in for a test of wills over federal spending. A watershed presidential election looming." The upshot: Yet another article warning the Democrats not stand up too much to George W. Bush, since the '95 shutdown is seen as a political debacle for House […]

May
01
2007

Letters to the Editor

The Eichenwald Storm I appreciate Jessica Wakeman's coverage (1-2/07) of the storm provoked by my opinion piece that ran in Salon for several hours last summer until it was removed following Kurt Eichenwald's threats to sue Salon and me. Overall, Wakeman accurately reprised the issues. An omission and an error, however, need clarification. Wakeman mentioned that Salon's lawyer told me I libeled Eichenwald. But she didn't add that I disagreed with the lawyer. I wrote an open letter (published in CounterPunch, 9/23/06) protesting determinations that Salon made about my article without allowing me decision-making input. Wakeman erred when she quoted […]